Shorter outlasts Missouri Baptist 18-17 for third at NWLL Tourney
ROME -- National Women's Lacrosse League first team honoree Bianca Rojas scored five goals and scooped up 13 ground balls, Whitney Dixe added four goals and three assists and Shorter University held on to beat Missouri Baptist University 18-17 in the third place game at the NWLL Tournament in Rome, Ga.
The Lady Hawks (10-6), seeded fourth, took their first lead of the game late in the first half and never relinquished the advantage in topping third-seeded Missouri Baptist, which concludes the season with an even 7-7 overall record.
Shorter avenged an earlier loss to Missouri Baptist on the very same field. The Spartans rallied in the second half to beat the Lady Hawks in Rome back on March 14, a head-to-head win that secured the higher seed for Missouri Baptist in the tournament.
The Lady Hawks, who squandered an 8-3 halftime lead to Missouri Baptist in that loss one month ago, weren't about to let history repeat itself.
This time around, it was Missouri Baptist that opened up a sizable lead in the early going, scoring six of the game's first eight goals and taking a 6-2 lead with 11:43 left in the first half after the second of two straight goals from Vanessa Kretzler.
Shorter stormed back with a 6-0 run ignited by a goal from Dixe at the 8:07 mark. The Lady Hawks scored five more times over the next 3:57, including another goal from Dixe and two from Rojas, to take an 8-6 edge four minutes from halftime.
A free position shot from Dixe with 39 seconds left in the opening stanza staked Shorter a 9-7 lead at the half and Rachel Skinner and Aiste Pranciliauskaite scored the first two goals of the second half as Shorter appeared on the verge of a rout.
In a battle between the NWLL's 2011 Co-Coaches of the Year -- MBU's Katie Rau and Shorter's Brittni Dulaney shared the honor -- the Spartans made things interesting down the stretch. Although MBU never led in the second half, it did pull to within one goal six times in the final 23 minutes.
Even after Shorter opened up another four goal lead at 15-11 after two goals from Rojas sandwiched between a pair from Katie Ott, Missouri Baptist fought back behind 2011 NWLL Player of the Year Amanda Sullivan, who scored back-to-back goals in the midst of a 3-0 MBU run to cut the deficit to 15-14 with 6:16 left.
But Rojas scored her fifth and final goal 18 seconds later to push the lead back to two and although Kretzler scored her game-high ninth goal with 55 seconds left to again trim the Missouri Baptist deficit to one at 18-17, Shorter scooped up the ensuing draw and ran out the clock to preserve the win.
Skinner and Ott had three goals apiece for Shorter, which was outshot by Missouri Baptist 38-36. Pranciliauskaite added an assist to her two goals and Alicia Acton chipped in with a goal and two assists.
Kretzler dished out a helper to along with her nine goals, Sullivan finished with three strikes and Danielle Pfyl and Katlyn Kraft each notched two goals for the Spartans, who held a 61-54 advantage in ground balls and forced 28 Shorter turnovers.